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Aug 17, 2007

The Fore-N-Aft Gain Angle

By: Ray Taulbot

WE HAVE STATED QUITE OFTEN IN this space thatmany handicappers like to depend entirely on angles as a means of selecting plays. To begood, an angle must be restrictive. If the rules are too loose, handicappers will findthemselves making far too many plays to earn a profit.

The horseplayer who does not have the patience to wait may find themself stretching therules. Rather than doing this, the player should employ a few good, solid, restrictiveangles to give himself more action.

One of the best angles is that "oldie but goodie"known as the "fore-and-aft gain angle." As its name implies, this angle involvesa twin gain. The first of these is the type of gain which reveals approaching good form.The second confirms the evidence of the former, which insures the player that the horse inquestion has not lost its sharpness since first revealing its improving condition.

To clearly understand why this angle produces a good percentageof nice winners, it is necessary to explain its inner workings in detail.
Too often, in those instances where a horse is in strong contention during the finalfurlong of its most recent race, the excessive effort deprives it of some of its reserveenergy. When this happens, it is quite likely that the horse will not come back withanother good race; not, at least, until it has had time to regain the energy it expendedin that hard-fought contest.

Likewise, the horse that finished either first or second laststart will very likely go to the post next out at short odds. Thus when the player sticksto so-called "hot form" horses, they frequently deprives themself of a pricecommensurate with the normal hazards involved in turf speculation.
Therefore, it behooves the player to search for horses that have given evidence of good orapproaching good condition and whose last race did not deprive them of the reserve energynecessary to the winning of today’s contest.

Evidence of this is sometimes found in the nature of early footin the next-to-last race. In other instances, the evidence is found in a sharpbeaten-length gain between the first and second calls. Such gains are often the result ofriding orders from trainer to jockey such as the following hypothetical conversation:

"This horse is getting good, son, and we want to know if itis ready or if it needs more racing before going after a purse. Let him break on his ownand given him a quarter of a mile to find his stride. Then bear down on him during thenext quarter. If he can reach contention, okay. If not, let him run on his own."

Orders like these often result in a running line which mayappear something like this in the past performance block:

89 75 98 1011

Not very impressive, you say? Well, since you weren’t privyto that conversation between jockey and trainer, that gain of four lengths between thefirst and second calls does not register on your eye. But it is important nevertheless.

In the next start, the trainer may shoot the works, or he maygive the horse another race. It all depends upon the report he received from the riderafter the race shown above. If the rider’s report was favorable, then the trainerwill try next start. If the report was not good, he will give the horse another racebefore going all out to win.

In those cases where the trainer tries for a win following thetype of race we have described above, we have the perfect set-up for an angle play nextstart, always provided the horse does not win or finish second, and provided it gained inboth running positions and lengths during the final furlong.

Thus the current last two races of an angle horse will look likethis:

78 75 55 32

89 75 98 1011

This horse has now displayed a gain both "fore and aft." It gained in bothrunning position and lengths in the stretch last start, and in its previous race it gainedlengths between the first and second calls.

In short, the trainer shot and missed after his horse hadpreviously made a gain between the first and second calls. It appears that the report thetrainer received following the next-to-last race was sufficiently good to tempt him to trynext out. Unfortunately for him, the horse needed another race.

The following rules will point out an angle horse like thoseshown in the examples and most of them will go postward at prices conducive to profitableturf investment:

1. The horse’s last race must not have taken place morethan 15 days ago.
2. Examine the first two calls of the next to last race and make note of any horse thatgained three lengths or more between the first and second calls shown in the horse’sDaily Racing Form past performance block.
3. Next examine the last two calls of the last race. In order to qualify as a possibleplay, the horse must have gained both running positions and lengths between the stretchcall and the finish. The horse must not have finished closer than third. It may havefinished farther back, but not closer than third.
4. The class of today’s race must be no higher than the class of the horse’snext-to-last race unless the closing odds are 10-1 or higher.
5. If the horse passes these four simple rules, it is worth an investment—providedits odds are 5-1 or higher on horses that are not moving up in class or 10-1 or more onthose that are, provided it has not been out more than 15 days.

• • •

For a good case study of the fore-and-aft gain angle, turn backto page 49 and take a moment to study the past performances of Perfect Night in the tenthrace at Meadowlands on November 5—the Cooper’s Ferry Stakes.

Note that this filly had gained more than the required threelengths between the first two calls of her next-to-last race and had also gained bothrunning positions and beaten lengths between the stretch call and finish of her mostrecent race.

She had raced just seven days ago and though she was moving upin class from her next-to-last race her odds of 10-1 permitted her to do so (see RuleFive.) Perfect Night, an outstanding angle play, returned $23.40 to win.

The date rule is one of the hardest for any angle player toabide by. There seems to be so little difference between 15 and 20 days that most fans maybe inclined to fudge a bit.

Personally, we abide by it. But where the line is thin and therewards are great, we do not believe a player will hurt himself too often if he stretchesthe date rule somewhat.

A case in point was Flashy Love who paid $44.20 in the secondrace at Hawthorne on November 28. The gelding had never been closer than fifth at any callin his top two races but still met all the angle requirements. Though he had not raced for18 days, his generous odds justified stretching the day rule in this race.

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